6th November, 2013
By Bisi Akande
Today, the unstoppable APC (All Progressives Congress) train, which has made important stops in Kano, Jigawa and Adamawa, has arrived in Rivers State.
This is another important stop, because it allows us, the APC leaders, not only to invite Chibuike Amaechi, the courageous Governor of Rivers State, to join the growing APC family, but to show our solidarity with a man who has succeeded in battling anti-democratic forces to a standstill.
Let us be clear. Our party has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Governor Amaechi since the beginning of his travails. We have been unrelenting in our support because our party stands for justice, fairness and unfettered freedom. We abhor dictatorship clad in fake democratic garments.
We believe that the system of government that we operate does not make provision for an imperial presidency, who can neither be criticized nor opposed. That is why we told those who said the APC is crying more than the bereaved on the Rivers State issue, that we are indeed the bereaved anytime the rule of law is supplanted with the rule of the jungle; and we are the bereaved anytime a democratically-elected President thumbs his nose at the Nigerian Constitution. Or how else do we explain a situation in which a duly elected governor, who is known to the Constitution as the Chief Security Officer of his state, is now being made to run his state side by side with the State Police Commissioner, who has been elevated to the de facto Governor by the presidency?
How do we explain a situation in which a State Governor is being prevented from accessing his official residence by the police who should take orders from him? Where is it done that a State Governor cannot receive visitors, including fellow State Governors, without being tear-gassed and humiliated by the police? Or how does one justify a situation in which armed thugs backed by the police attack lawmakers in the hallowed chambers of the State House of Assembly?
Governor Amaechi has been enduring these and other indignities, without wilting under fire! His plane has been grounded under flimsy, cooked-up excuses! They felt they have clipped his wings, but he is soaring even higher.
What is his offence? Standing up for the defence of democracy and the Constitution, leading his fellow Governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to reject creeping dictatorship.
But because he provided good leadership, because he has the support of his colleagues in the NGF and because his cause is just, he has prevailed over his adversaries, and he stands taller than his physique.
Because he stands as a bulwark against those who wanted to annihilate democracy and cripple governance, the plan to extend the anarchy in Rivers State to other states of the Federation has failed.
That is why we called him an epitome of courage.
It was Maya Angelou, the African-American author and poet, who said courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.
Perhaps that was why another American poet, Robert Frost, said that freedom lies in being bold.
Thanks to Governor Amaechi’s courage, Nigeria’s democracy is stronger, and our country is better.
We salute your courage under fire, your tenacity under an endless assault and your commitment to unfettered freedom for all citizens.
Since the leaking umbrella can no longer protect you from the vagaries of harsh weather, we ask you to jump on the APC train that will take Nigeria to the promised land!
•Akande, Interim National Chairman of APC, made this speech at the Rivers State Govt House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, 5 November.